Wilderness Volunteers provides affordable and meaningful volunteer service opportunities that conserve and protect America’s wild lands. Wilderness Volunteers received a $6,000 grant from the Overland Expo Foundation to support their Hole in the Rock Road Naturalization project. This was a weeklong volunteer project that took place in mid-April to help remediate visitor impacts on Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) along the popular Hole in the Rock Road

This project successfully addressed many visitor impacts on Hole in the Rock Road by closing and naturalizing illegal campsites, rebuilding campfire rings to make them align with Leave No Trace Principles, and cleaning up trash and charcoal. Additionally, the project closed unauthorized “ways” (areas where people drive illegally) to help protect the area’s natural resources and provide more clear direction to visitors who may not know which “ways” they can drive on and which they cannot. The Wilderness Volunteers crew also installed signs and rock baskets indicating appropriate camping and driving areas to help guide visitors on how to use the area in an authorized and sustainable manner. 

“We are satisfied with the results of our weeklong project, but know that there is much more work to be done in this area and look forward to future projects here.”


Positive Impacts

All visitors to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, including those local to Escalante, UT, and visiting from across the country and internationally, will benefit from this project. Visitors will be able to enjoy a cleaner, more natural Hole in the Rock Road, with clearer camping and roadway designations to improve their visitor experience. This project also protects natural resources along Hole in the Rock Road and makes visitor travel more sustainable in the long term, which will affect users for many years to come.

Additionally, GSENM rangers and other staff are directly impacted by this project, as they would not be able to complete this much-needed work without support from volunteer groups like Wilderness Volunteers.

Finally, the volunteer crew of 10 people, ranging in age from mid-30s to mid-70s and traveling from IL, GA, WI, CA, ID, WY, FL, and UT, were able to learn about GSENM and the threats facing this special area. They learned new skills and deepened their connection with public lands. 

Project outcomes:

  • 19 illegal campfire rings removed
  • 7 illegal campsites closed and naturalized
  • 8 campfire rings rebuilt (to align with Leave No Trace principles)
  • 14 unauthorized “ways” (paths/roads) closed and naturalized 
  • 2 rock baskets constructed
  • 14 signs installed
  • 1,100 pounds of trash and charcoal removed
happy volunteer in restored area of Grand Stair Case Escalante, Wilderness Volunteers project


Get Involved

Overall, volunteers on the project had a positive experience, and partnering agencies, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, were very pleased with the amount and quality of work WV completed. There is still plenty of work that needs to be done in this area, and GSENM welcomes Wilderness Volunteers return in 2024. Future projects will continue to focus on the highest priority projects identified by GSENM. Stay connected with Wilderness Volunteers for more information on 2024 projects at: wildernessvolunteers.org 

*All photos curtesy of Wilderness Volunteers.